Re: 3 possible views of "consciousness"

From: <>
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2001 23:47:27 EST

"Jesse Mazer" <> helpfully wrote:
> ... it's useful to differentiate between 3 different positions:
> 1. Consciousness is not "real"--our decision to call a system
> "conscious" or not is based only on subjective aesthetic criteria,
> like "cuteness" (Daniel Dennett's example). The only facts about
> reality are third-person facts, in this view.
> 2. Consciousness is real, but the feeling of continuity of
> consciousness over time (the 'flow of related thoughts in time' above)
> is not. In this view, only moments of experience exist, but nothing
> flows between these moments.
> 3. Consciousness is real, and so is continuity of consciousness over
> time. Proponents of this view may still believe that identity can
> split or merge though (think of many-worlds, or replicator
> experiments).
> ....

Despite its unpopularity, I think position 1 makes the most sense for
those of us expecting to someday build robots that are also persons.
Building robots is, after all, a third person kind of activity.

But position 1 does NOT preclude the reality of a first-person
existence, it just makes that existence a purely subjective matter,
but not only for third persons.

Once you attribute consciousness to an entity (perhaps persuaded by
its Turing test performance), then you are interpreting its observable
state in terms of feelings, beliefs and intentions. Among those
feelings and beliefs, presumably, is the entity's feeling of and
belief in its own consciousness, i.e. its awareness of its own

So, this awareness exists not only as a subjective attribute in your
mind, but (within that attribution) as a subjective attribute in the
entity's own mind. Why shouldn't the entity's subjective
self-perception count as real experience? It has at least as much
Platonic existence as any of the proposed frameworks for universe
existence on this list: more so, since the entity's consciousness can
be explored in depth very naturally by conducting a long personal
relationship with it.
Received on Sun Jan 28 2001 - 20:52:37 PST

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